Wide-handed astronauts likely to have their nails fall off

Fingernails of Astronauts with wider hands may fall off after working in space suit gloves.

Washington: A new study has found that astronauts with wider hands are more likely to have their fingernails fall off after working or training in space suit gloves.

The trouble is that the gloves, like the entire space suit, need to simulate the pressure of Earth``s atmosphere in the chilly, airless environment of space, reports National geographic News.

The rigid, balloonlike nature of gas-pressurized gloves makes fine motor control a challenge during extravehicular activities (EVAs), aka spacewalks.
To help design more comfy space suit gloves, MIT``s Newman and colleagues initially tested whether fingernail trauma is related to the length of astronauts`` fingers.

The team first collected data from the Injury Tracking System, a database of astronaut medical logs at NASA``s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Of the 232 crewmembers with complete injury records and body measurements, 22 reported at least one case of fingernail delamination.

Surprisingly, an analysis of hand measurements among injured astronauts and a noninjured control group showed no statistical relationship between finger length and the instances of nails falling off, according to the study.

Instead, the team found that fingernail trauma was a bigger problem for people with a wider hand circumference, or the size of the hand around the metacarpophalangeal, or metacarpal, joint, where the fingers meet the palm.

The team``s analysis will be published in the October issue of the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine.